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January 23, 2010


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I've read all of hers in order and was waiting for this one, but was also underwhelmed.

fine book, well-written, and it just doesn't grab me much

There are authors toward whom I have the same reaction: they are highly acclaimed, and I can see why, but I can't feel it.

Well, I don't know that Flewelling is highly acclaimed in general, but I really did find at least the first two Tamir books to be brilliant. So the other series suffers by comparison.

Correction duly noted, Susan. That being said, are there authors who are indeed highly acclaimed but who left you cold - limiting ourselves to the F/SF field?

The Bone Doll's Twin is really very good. In that book in particular, and that trilogy in general, the only way for the characters to put right the bad things that are happening is to do things just as bad, and everybody - acting, not acting, guilty, innocent - suffers for it.

When I first read the Nightrunners books, I'd thought that Flewelling was holding back because she liked her characters too much, and didn't make them pay enough for their victories compared to the Tamir books. (In retrospect they do suffer quite a bit for most books, but nowhere near as much as in the Triad.) But this one showed that's not what's going on as they really take a hammering, but the book's still not as good.

Also, for some reason I can't help but smile at the name "Flewelling". I don't know why.

Well, I know why I find it funny, and I'll assume the same thing lurks somewhere in your education as well:

I peseech you heartily, scurvy, lousy knave, at my
desires, and my requests, and my petitions, to eat, look you,
this leek; because, look you, you do not love it, nor your
affections, and your appetites, and your digestions, does not
agree with it, I would desire you to eat it.

To think that I refrained from saying what the name made me think of, only to see Susan do it. On the other hand, she expressed the sentiment more elegantly than I would have.

On Bone Doll's Twin: I thought the Tamir-triad metaphor of the speck of dirt at the heart of a pearl was very powerful.

That could well be why it makes me smile - I've seen the play... hmm... I think 5 times on stage and at least 4 different version on TV. The only Shakespeare I've seen more often is probably A Midsummer Nights Dream.

Neil W... Speaking of which, have you ever seen Judi Densch as Titania?

I figure anyone schooled in England would know Henry V (and probably had to recite the St. Crispin's Day speech at some point!)

I've seen it on film, hmm, twice, I think: Olivier and Branagh. Two or three times in the theater (I really do lose track of Shakespeare productions since I see so many), notably a very dark version at Stratford a few years ago that really made it obvious that good ol' Henry was raping and pillaging his way across France and wasn't actually such a nice guy. Quite a change from Olivier.

Rather sadly I think the plays we studied in school were A Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard II, As You Like It, Hamlet and A Merchant of Venice (from memory). My Mum is from Stratford Upon Avon so I found myself exposed at an early age - I think it began with a 4 hour version of Henry IV, Part 2 - coming in at (arguably) part 3 of a 4 part sequence, I was instantly hooked, and began a bad habit of starting things in the middle. Next time we visited my Nan, we saw a version of Merchant of Venice in modern dress, and, this being the late 80s, meant they were all yuppies. Shylock in suit trousers, blue shirt, dark tie and red braces completely transformed my understanding of the play. (Mum thought he was supposed to remind us of Robert Maxwell)

People have learnt not to say "Once more unto* the breach" as I have been known to continue that speech for quite a while.

* People have also learnt not to use the incorrect "into" around me as well.

Neil... People have learnt not to say "Once more unto the breach"

I think the TV schedule for Branagh's version once simply said "Once more onto the breech of the French".

Well, Dream can be very good for students. I taught it to teenagers myself, and for the first time really enjoyed the four young lovers. The kids got extremely involved with those characters and identified them with their own romantic experiences. Adolescence apparently is timeless.

Richard II, on the other hand...gah. That's as bad as Julius Caesar for kids. (In the U.S., Caesar is one of the standard school texts, though somehow I managed to evade it myself.) I read Henry IV Part 1 and Hamlet in school, that I remember. I was very fond of Hotspur in the former; I completely confused a friend of mine's (Welsh) date last summer by asking if he could sing.

Regarding "Henry IV"... Back in the Sixties, there was a French TV series called "Thierry la Fronde". Thierry was thus called because he was quite handy with a sling. One could say that he was a French Robin Hood. The difference is that he was fighting the Vile British Occupation.

I'm totally failing to figure out the link to Henry IV. Robin Hood stories are typically associated with Richard the Lionheart and/or John, and the noted invader of France was Henry V, though the whole England/France thing was vastly complicated for centuries.

Argh. I had meant to write "Henry V" not "IV". Really. Honest.

As for the Robin Hood reference... While the "Thierry" stories were set in a different century, it was the same basic premise: Thierry is a man from one class/people who fights the oppressor's class/people, and who is handy with some weapon - a sling instead of a bow. Also, he has a girl friend.

Oh, and here is the opening segment of one episode. Please try not to guffaw.

It doesn't connect to Henry V either. :) -1 point for dubious segue!

On that credit sequence: looks like he mugged a rapper for that bling. I did like the music, though.

Susan... I'll confess that my knowledge of History is rather spotty, to put it mildly.

As for "Thierry"... Good. The music was a wee bit corny, but I'm glad you liked it. I must say I winced when the actor smiled to the camera in those opening credits. In 1978, he was in "Gaston Phebus", a series about a Nobleman of the 14th Century. I never caught more than one episode, which is a shame. One scene I remember had him ride by a beautiful peasant girl to whom he says "I envy the one who will harvest the flowers of your garden." Later, when he gets tricked into marriage with a not-nice Noblewoman, she winds up alone in their bed, while he's in the room next door having fun with another woman, but the bride can't leave because Phebus has a guy with a bear keeping an eye on her.

Ah, French TV..

You know I'm sure we saw Julius Caesar with the school. Did we see it but not study it? Or did we study more than one a year, so there was another play or two I had to read?

One reason I've seen Dream a lot is that the school Mum taught at put it on at least twice while she was there and she was often the member of staff supervising the stage crew (A sixth form student was theoretically in charge, so I guess this made her the deputy, albeit the one responsible for minors etc.)

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